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Culture minister hospitalized as new areas enter lockdown in French battle against Covid-19– France’s culture minister has become the second cabinet member to be hospitalised with Covid-19 in the past week as the country battles a surge in Covid cases.

Roselyne Bachelot, who is 74, tested positive at the weekend and was taken to hospital after her symptoms worsened,on Tuesday.

She is reportedly in a stable condition, a source said she had been admitted for increased monitoring over a few days.

Meanwhile Labour minister Elisabeth Borne, 59, has been discharged after a short stay in hospital. She tweeted her thanks to hospital staff on Wednesday for their help “during these difficult days”.

As France struggles with an upsurge in Covid cases, the Paris area is among those particularly affected.

Intensive care units in the Paris region are already beyond their designated capacity and officials are now scrambling to increase capacity in the coming days by cancelling other operations.

Nationwide, the number of intensive care patients stands at 4,634 and doctors warn that cases are on track to match the peak of 4,900 seen during the second wave last autumn.

Lockdown extended to other areas

The government, after consideration today, has added 3 more departments (Rhône, Aube, Nièvre) to the 16, including Paris, placed under a limited lockdown last Saturday.

The number of infections in the Rhône region, which includes Lyon, is at 383 per 100,000 inhabitants, in Nièvre 229 people per 100,000 are infected while in Aube the number is 445, according to the French public health authority, Santé Publique France.

In the departments under limited lockdown, people are not able to travel more than 10 kms from their homes or invite people to their homes and all non-essential shops are closed. Cinemas and theatres remain closed and cafés and restaurants have been closed everywhere in France since the end of October.

President Emmanuel Macron announced on Tuesday a new push to step up France’s inoculation drive.

The country has so far administered almost 6.4 million initial doses of the three vaccines available in France, representing 9.5 percent of the population, according to health ministry data compiled by the site.

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